August 21, 2014

recent craftiness: upcycled pickle jars...

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Well, that's a post title I didn't see coming. I may or may not have lost my marbles.

The thing is, I've been able to get these over-priced jars of pickles for ridiculously cheap (around $1 per jar) thanks to the goodness of couponing. I started saving them a while back, because they're actually pretty unique as far as jars go. They are a good size, and they even have ML and Cup notations in the glass. The hoarder in me refused to let me toss them, so they've been taking up space in our over-filled cabinets for several months now. But at least I don't have any frozen owls in my freezer, right?

(I may be watching too many episodes of Hoarders right now. Send help.)

Anyway, this week I decided to finally rinse off the labels from these jars and make use of them. It's one of those things I thought would take much longer than it actually did, and I'm glad I made the time to do it!

pickle jar upcycle | yourwishcake.comimage
Here are the jars pre-scrubbing! Please tell me I'm not the only one who would feel driven to keep something like this. I mean, honestly.

pickle jar upcycle | yourwishcake.compickle jar upcycle | yourwishcake.com
To remove the labels, I simply soaked the jars in a hot sink of soapy water for about a half an hour (it probably didn't need to be that long, but I was distracted by a small child for a while). After I took them out of the water, I rubbed off as much of the label as I could, then scrubbed the adhesive off by using a rag with nail polish remover. It came of so quickly with the nail polish remover, it was quite fantastic! I was thinking I would have to go out and buy something to remove the adhesive, but Google came to the rescue once again.

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I have a couple more jars waiting to be scrubbed down, but the first three ended up holding coffee grounds, flowers, and oats. For the gold-ified one, I just poured some gold paint inside and swirled it around for a while to make sure it was fully coated. (I tried using a paint brush, but you could see the paint strokes, which annoyed me.) To me, it looks more brown than gold, so I think next time around I'll just spring for some spray paint and do the outside of the jar instead of the inside.

pickle jar upcycle | yourwishcake.com
These roses grow near our duplex, and I cut a few to put in the jar for these photos. I'm pretty sure there were a few creatures living in them, though, so they may not be in here for long. (Some day I will convince my husband to buy me flowers on the regular. Until that day, these will have to do!)

pickle jar upcycle | yourwishcake.com
We keep the other two jars on our kitchen counter. Not fancy, but I find them quite charming, if you ask me. I was toying with the idea of spray-painting the lids, but wasn't sure if that would be a good idea, since we're keeping food inside of them. Thoughts?

A bunch of people have told me how they use mason jars as drinking glasses, and although these seems a tad too big for that, the next two jars I clean may end up serving that purpose. Come to think of it, we just got margarita mix from Costco, so…want to come over? Seriously.

August 20, 2014

our (first!) family photoshoot...

family photos by Lanny Nguyen | yourwishcake.com
Confession: Jay and I haven't had professional photos taken of us since our wedding. I know, I know. We're a little ridiculous. Couldn't we have even sprung for some JC Penney portraits at some point in the past almost-decade? Apparently not. A couple years ago, we did get some church directory photos taken, but they weren't anything that I was too excited to display on our walls. I've always wanted a more laid-back, casual, friendly style of photos for our family—and I was quite thrilled to finally get some a couple weeks ago. 

(Can I get a hooray? Hooray!)

My sweet friend Lanny Nguyen is currently growing her photography business, and when I found out she was going to be in town this month, I slipped a bit of a request into the conversation. "Sooooo, how do you feel about taking photos of Jay, Eisley and I? Pretty please!" She was kind enough to do these photos for us as a gift for my upcoming birthday (what a treasure!) and I had to share some of my favorites from our evening photoshoot.

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It was an absolute joy working with Lan. We worked together for a year before I became a stay-at-home-mama, and since then we have continued to develop a wonderful friendship. She's someone who I admire and respect so much—both for her talent and her heart. She's been chasing her creative dreams for the past few years, and I couldn't be more thrilled to watch her create a successful business that fulfills her true passion! Her photography is incredible—and I'll be so happy to have these photos adorn the walls of our home (and all of our relatives' homes, and our Christmas cards, and so on and so forth, amen).

When I told Lan I would be posting about the photos on my blog, she provided me with a special discount for my readers, the gem that she is. If you use me as a referral, you will receive 25% off packages that start at $200, as well as a free canvas print. She is able to take photos in any location throughout both Northern and Southern California—and be sure to take a peek at her website for more examples of recent work! If you have any questions, comments or requests, feel free to contact her through her website. You can also follow her creative goodness on Twitter or Instagram.

I feel so grateful for the sweet photos and how she captured the personality of our family so perfectly!  I'm so, so happy with each and every one.

August 18, 2014

saying goodbye...

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On Friday, I went to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa. On Sunday, he went to be with Jesus. It was a long weekend for much of my family, and even now I'm left with so many emotions about the entire thing. To be honest, this is the first time I've been able to see a loved one age, grow weak and ill, and then reach the end of their life. But, as it turns out, it's not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it has opened my heart a lot. As cliché as it may sound, it's given me a clearer view of things…of life, family, relationships, my faith.

When I first moved to California ten years ago, I lived with my grandpa and grandma for almost two years—moving out only after Jay and I were married. In that time, I was able to actually get to know my grandpa. It's one thing to see a relative every couple years on vacation, to receive christmas gifts and an annual happy-birthday phone call…but it's another to have daily conversations with them. To see them more often than your parents, even. To realize that grandparents are actually quite hilarious and thoughtful and energetic and creative and filled with stories that you really want to hear. And even some stories you'll never get to hear.

I remember seeing so much of my dad in my grandpa after, after having lived with him for quite some time. I realized how many of my dad's mannerisms come from his dad. Silly phrases, certain facial expressions, the way he tells stories…even the way he blinks, nods and sets his mouth in a line when he doesn't know what to say. My dad has his dad's eyes, and it was always comforting to see that in my grandpa when I was feeling especially homesick in the early years.

During the past couple years, as my grandpa became much more weak, I couldn't help but realize the bigger picture of why I moved to California so many years ago. Looking back, I can see in a very self-centered way how moving here is what I was meant to do. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and see more of the world, discover independence, meet and marry the man who was made for me. But I can now see what an important part my relatives here have played in the past decade of my life, and how my moving here was so important for more than just me and my own life.

Eisley was the only great-grandchild my grandpa was able to watch grow up before his eyes. He was even able to hold her when she was one day old. She had such a sweet relationship with him, even up until the past few weeks. It was very refreshing to see a child so young and innocent, because they don't know anything is wrong or that any sadness is around the corner. She'd just run into great-grandpa and great-grandma's house, hop over to great-grandpa's big chair, give him a hug, and offer him a cup of make-believe tea like he was anyone else in her life. She didn't tiptoe around him, or worry too much, or not know what to say.

I think that comforted everyone. I think that he needed that light in his days.

I'm so grateful for the relationship I had with my grandpa—one that I couldn't have ever had without having been here. I'm grateful for his humor, his wisdom, that he gave me my dad. I'm grateful he got to know Eisley and Jay, and that I have a decade of not only big memories with him, but also the simpler, day-to-day ones.

It's so hard to say goodbye to someone you love. But there's nothing like having the peace of knowing that he is now once again strong, joyful, without pain. And I'll get to see him again someday.

This is the first time in my adult life that I've been faced with death in this way, with someone so close to me. It has made me so aware of how short life is, and how at the end of it all, the only people who matter are the ones that keep you in their hearts every day, even after you're gone.